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In a World without God Chapter 42

A sound akin to nails scraping on glass echoed through the air. It was Mebaba's scream. Ishkur, clenching his fist tightly, gazed at Edulis.

 

"Was he... always this strong?

 

Though he didn't show it, Ishkur was filled with fear at the sight in front of him– a pile of skeletons in the corner, bones and flesh scattered across the floor, and Mebaba's ugly, menacing form.

 

It reminded him of when Tibea had stirred up the Fey family. Ishkur had been powerless against her. It was nothing short of a miracle that Edulis had defeated her.

 

But Mebaba was a far greater threat than Tibea, as the shadow soldiers could tell. The wolf ant's skin was much harder than Tibea's and its movements were much faster too. A being that could produce an endless supply of such wolf ants was ridiculous.

 

Ishkur had been dreaming for over a decade the day he would break free from the shackles of the Fey family and find his mother. But he never imagined the horrors he would encounter along the way. When he saw Mebaba, he thought he was facing yet another great wall after Tibea.

 

But his helplessness was short-lived.

 

Edulis' body soared into the air, hovered for a moment, and then plummeted downward. Like a waterfall, the blade of a guillotine, or a downpour of hail, he struck the ground. As soon as his feet touched the ground, all of Mebaba's ant jaws fell off.

 

"How... how could a human...!" Mebaba looked terribly confused. It stomped its feet, waving its broken jaws wildly from side to side. Ishkur was watching the scene and thinking the same thing as Mebaba.

 

“Is this what a human is capable of?

 

Edulis stomped the ground. His target was Mebaba's front leg. In her frenzy, Mebaba flailed wildly, but Edulis's sword sliced through the joint with precision.

 

The human face on the Mebaba's skull contorted.

 

It was the first crisis it had in eighty years. With Lutea dead and the Apostle out of sight, Mebaba had thought there was no threat. It had been living a comfortable life, lying down and eating the food thrown at it.


It was too late for it to realize that— that Edulis was stronger than itself. 

'Damn it! Now that it has come to this...'

 

Thump! 


Mebaba's tail rolled on the ground. She had abandoned her egg sac, which took up most of her size. It began to spit out smaller wolf ants. Using them as a barricade, Mebaba began to run on her six legs, away from Edulis. In a flash, she was out of the barracks, scuttling like a cockroach.

 

Of all the witch's servants, Mebaba was the most skilled at running and hiding. It was how she had managed to evade Ygraine and the Apostle for so long. Eighty years of age had taken its toll, however. The one leg that had been injured by Edulis, that one leg was a problem.

 

"I leave it to you, Murjana," Edulis said, and Murjana nodded. 


Then Edulis charged at the little wolf ants. Black blood splattered across the floor. He leaned on his sword and stomped the ground. Aiming only for Mebaba. It was a Black Fang move, a single thrust that propelled one forward nine paces, but now Edulis was able to do more than that.


Like a stone thrown across the water's surface, Edulis leaped in front of Mebaba in a single bound. At the same time, he swung his sword and one of Mebaba's legs fell off. Her body was thrown off balance.

 

 Edulis' sword pierced through Mebaba's throat and the human face on top of its head screamed.

 

"Why! Why does such a person exist?! It's supposed to be Granadilla's world!"

 

Edulis responded. "It is time for that world to end."

 

"You will be cursed, you will surely die, writhing in agony as your whole body is drenched with curses!” 


Edulis chuckled bitterly at that. He had already died once in that manner. Edulis drove his sword deeper into Mebaba's neck, saying, "But you, weren't you killed by Ygraine once, and how did you come back to life?"


"By the infinite grace of Granadilla, who works miracles beyond your wildest dreams, and you will end up on your knees before her!"

 

"Ah, is that so…”

 

Edulis's sword sliced through Mebaba’s throat. From the cut, Mebaba turned to ash and scattered into the air. The faces of his dead comrades flashed through his mind.

 

‘Those guys just couldn't take a hit. I wonder if they're feeling a little better now.’

 

 At the same time, the wolf ants born from Mebaba crumbled to ash and scattered.

 

Ishkur stared at Edelis's face as he walked slowly. He was so shocked that he couldn't even say a word.

 

He had seen Edulis defeat a rockworm with ease, and he had sensed that he had become stronger. But he hadn't expected it to be this much. Edulis took down the strong and evil Mebaba so easily with such an overwhelming force. Hell, even hunting a boar takes longer than this...

 

"Let's go."

 

After saying this, Edulis headed towards the stairs. Watching his back, the vague hope in Ishkur's heart turned into certainty. Edulis was a much more powerful ally than Ishkur had expected. If so, then...


"I'll meet my mother, I'm sure of it.

 

***

 

It was quiet. Just as Edulis and his group had expected. There was a low likelihood that, after placing a monster like Mebaba at the entrance, there would be additional defensive forces inside.


But... it was too quiet.

 

"You said the mermaid called this place a laboratory, didn't you?"


"Yes," Edulis answered Ishkur's question. It was a valid doubt. The basement looked more like a prison than a laboratory. It sloped gently downward. On both sides of the narrow corridor were rooms barred by iron grills, all locked.

 

"Bones," Murjana said, looking at the room. It was a skeleton. Yellowed skulls and bits of bone littered the floor. All three frowned at the sight.


What an unjust death, to be forgotten by the people, while locked away in a place like this.

 

The three swallowed their bitterness and started walking. But the further down they went, the more they realized something was amiss, for at some point, they began to see bones that were clearly not human.

 

Bones spread wide and thin like sails, long and straight like bamboo, sharply curved like hooks. Who did these belong to?


Everyone guessed but did not voice it out loud. However, that guess soon turned into certainty. It was when they were about halfway down the basement…

 

No one could open their mouths when they saw it. Ishkur had to fight back a wave of nausea.

 

From a distance, it looked like a ball. A ball so big that a grown man could barely encompass it with his arms spread wide. But it had faces, multiple faces. It looked like they were sewn together with thread.

 

 - Mommy... Mommy....

 - Save me, honey, save me.

 - Luthea... How can you allow us to be the witch's playthings?

 

The ball had little bumps on it. It was the tips of fingers, and it looked like it was buried in flesh.

 

"No way...."

 

The mermaid had said that the Ascidians were assisting the witch in her experiments, and the knowledge weighed heavily on Ishkur's heart. His own people were involved in this desecration of life? And then there was his mother...

 

 At that moment, Edulis's sword sliced through the bars.



 "Edulis?"

 

 Edulis took a step toward the human sphere.

 

 - Save me... Mom... Dad....

 

 The spheres didn't react much to his presence. They mumbled the same words over and over, as if they had lost their minds. Edulis carefully placed his hands on their bodies.

 

 "You have lost the form Father gave you."

 

 A white circle appeared on the floor.

 

"By the providence of Uraeus, rise. Stand up and walk on the ground with both feet. I am the lantern extended to you by Uraeus, the star that lights the way for the lost”

 

A swarm of light from the circle surrounded the sphere like thousands of fireflies taking flight. It was different than when he tried it on Kadesh, the kid in the Fey basement. Edulis's magic has changed.


Just as Lutea's shard had freed hundreds of people held captive by Tibea, Edulis' light gently enveloped the sphere's captive soul.


The purification was a success. But....

 

"Damn it..."

 

Edulis swore under his breath. The possessed had clearly returned to human form. Human corpses. When the purification was over, ten corpses appeared in front of Edulis. Their faces were peaceful as if they were asleep.

 

"What happened to them?"

 

"They had already lost their life force."

 

Edulis chewed his lip. Life was Lutea's gift to humans, and someone had trampled on it in a cruel grotesque way. He wondered how Ygraine would look at this trampled gift.

 

With that thought, Edulis quickened his pace. At the bottom, there were more spheres strewn about. Caged and moaning in pain.

 

Ishkur stood still, watching Edulis rush towards them.

 

 ***

 

"Wait here for a moment, I'll be back soon," Edulis said, grabbing the child by the shoulders.  The child had been reverted back by Edulis's purification magic. Frightened, the child trembled and looked up at Edulis's face.

 

There were only three of them. Only three that Edulis could revert with his purification magic. The rest had lost their life force and turned into corpses the moment the purification magic was used.

 

"Edulis, have you ever met an Ascidian before?" Ishkur asked.

 

"Yes."

 

"Were they bad people, by any chance?"

 

"I don't think there's a race of bad people. If you put a bunch of people together, you'll find some good ones and some scum among them."

 

"I suppose so."

 

Ishkur was confused. What kind of situation were the Ascidians in, what kind of situation were they in to help in such deeds?

 

Does his mother still think he's being held captive by the Fey? If so, he must tell her. They must escape this place together and live a life of atonement. Could they ever cleanse themselves of this sin, even if they dedicated their entire lives?

 

"Here it is."

 

It took a while to make their way through the prison, but Edulis and the others eventually reached the end of the downward spiral. 


There was a door about three times the height of an adult male. Edulis pushed it open to reveal a large space. It was about half the size of the square on the Fey family estate.

 

Hundreds of people were gathered there. Red eyes, black hair. They must be the Ascidians Ishkur was looking for. They sat in a circle along a huge circle of magic, chanting spells. In the center of the circle, a child with golden hair lay with a pained expression. The circle was emitting a black light that curled like soot.

 

Edulis's heart leaped at the sight of the child.

 

'That child is...'

 

Just then, someone stepped out from among them, heels clicking rhythmically with quick steps.

 

"Ishkur, is it really you, Ishkur?"

 

 A desperate voice, a face full of tears. Ishkur recognized it at once.

 

"Mother..."


"How long I have waited for this day!" Ishkur's mother, Petra, had hardly changed from twelve years ago. She was still young and beautiful. Petra walked up to Ishkur and took his hand.

 

Tears welled in Ishkur's eyes. An old longing, an affection he'd kept bottled up inside poured out.  He hadn't seen his mother in twelve years. She was a kind, warm mother with a beautiful smile.... her smile hadn't changed at all.

 

"Let’s go, Mother. I'm free from the Fey family now."

 

"Go where?"

 

"To Garug, to the house we shared on the coast... to atone to the people."

 

"Atone? What are you talking about, Ishkur?"

 

Petra cocked her head as if she had heard something truly strange. "Ishkur, let's live here together. Here, we can be free and happy."

 

"Free? To live here and be forced to do this?"

 

"We were not forced to do anything. We accepted this honorable task willingly.We are researching ways to make Lutea's fragments benefit Granadilla. Isn't it magnificent? Purifying the fragments of hypocrisy with truth!"


"Mother. You can't kidnap children, you can't play with people's lives, you've already done so many things irrevocably, but from now on...."

 

Petra narrowed her eyes and said. "Oh no, Ishkur. You too have been tainted by Luthea's hypocrisy."

 

"What?"

 

Ishkur studied his mother's face. Petra was looking down at Ishkur with a truly pitiful expression.

 

"It's like twisting a chicken's head off to roast it. Happiness is always at someone's expense. Lutea always wants to hide this fact."


Ishkur was lost for words. 


"When your father was murdered, did the Garug come to your aid? When Kindatu took you away as a child, did anyone stop him? We don't need to think about those things, son. We must be happy."

 

"Mother."

 

"These are good people here, good, kind neighbors. I have only dreamed of living here with you. Here we can be free and happy, and Granadilla will keep us happy."

 

"Mother!"


"You have suffered, Ishkur. In a world full of hypocrites. In a world where Lutea's pretense lingers.... Don’t worry. You can let everything go here."

 

Petra's fingers swept through Ishkur's hair. A teardrop fell from Ishkur's glowing red eyes. They looked straight into Petra's eyes.

 

"Mother, I don't follow Lutea, and I've never cared." 

 

 - Ishkur, the fruit of other people's tears is poisonous.

 

"I always lived remembering your words, Mother. It wasn’t hypocrisy. You were sincere."

 

Then tears formed in Petra's eyes. Ishkur knew she was genuinely sad because he had seen that look before. It’s the look she'd given him when Kindatu had taken him away.

 

His mother still loved him, and that fact weighed heavily on Ishkur's heart.

 

"It's okay now. Let's be free together, Ishkur."






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